A literary travel guide to Granada and Las Alpujarras, featuring the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, Washington Irving, Gerald Brenan, and the composer Manuel de Falla.
The exciting and sensual city of Granada, and the surrounding villages of 'Las Alpujarras' (the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range) in Andalucia, southern Spain, have a rich and diverse literary heritage. In addition, the city boasts one of the most beautiful historic monuments in Europe: The Alhambra Palace.
''Verde, que te quiero verde / Verde viento. Verdes ramas."
(''Green, how I want you green / Green wind. Green branches.")
from 'Sleepwalking Ballad' by Federico Garcia Lorca
Much of the Alhambra was built and decorated during the last great flowering of Moorish culture in Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries, before the 'reconquest' by Fernando and Isabel. Granada was the last city to fall, in 1492.
The area offers wonderful city and country walking, as well as opportunities for horse riding and mountain biking.
Washington Irving The author of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving spent 4 years in Spain, visiting the Alhambra (where he lived within the Palace walls) in the early 1830s. He wrote Tales of the Alhambra, published first in 1832 and then in a revised edition in 1851.
Federico Garcia Lorca
In the week before before he was arrested by Nationalists at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in August 1936 the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca was staying in Granada at the residence of the Rosales family. This building, near the Plaza de la Trinidad, is now the Hotel Reina Cristina.
Parque Federico Garcia Lorca, located between the nearby villages of Alfacar and Viznar, is close to a natural spring that was called The Fountain of Tears by the Moors 1,000 years before Lorca was murdered nearby.
The spring is actually a large pool and was called The Fountain of Tears because of the bubbles that still rise to its surface today.
In Parque Lorca there is an ancient olive tree that is believed to be the spot where Lorca was killed, murdered for his homosexuality and leftist views.
Manuel de Falla The Spanish composer Manuel de Falla, a contemporary and fellow member, with Lorca, of the 'Generation of 27', lived in Granada from 1921 to 1939. Here he wrote the puppet opera El retablo de maese Pedro (Master Peter's Puppet Show, 1923) and a concerto for harpsichord and chamber ensemble (1926).
Gerald Brenan The English writer Gerald Brenan settled in Yegen in 1919 where he wrote the travel book “South From Granada”, a classic of the inter-war years.
He was a closely involved with members of the Bloomsbury Group and in South From Granada he gives accounts of visits by Lytton Strachey, Carrington, and Virginia Woolf, amongst other friends, and a brief evaluation of 'Bloomsbury'.
GRANADA TRAVEL FACTFILE
To protect the Alhambra, a maximum of 6,300 daily admissions are allowed. It is therefore imperative to turn up as early as possible on the day or, better, buy a ticket in advance – either by phone (English is spoken), or on the net. Tickets are €8.
To book tickets
Tel: (inside Spain) 902 22 44 60
(outside Spain) + 00 34 91 537 91 78
Lorca's Summer House
Lorca's summer house, Huerta de San Vicente, is in the 'Parque Lorca'. At this white mansion, covered in grapevine and pink blossom, he wrote 'Blood Wedding and 'Gypsy Songs. ''There's so much jasmine and nightshade in the garden" he wrote to a friend in 1926, "that we all wake up with lyrical headaches," Entrance is only with a guided tour conducted in Spanish (about $4).
Watch the sun set over the city from the Mirador de la Lona, close to the Placeta de San Miguel, a tiny plaza of outdoor eateries and tapas bars in the Albaicín, Granada's old Muslim quarter.
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